These numbers are sure to be a huge boost to continuing efforts by People United for Medical Marijuana, an organization collecting signatures for a constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana in Florida. They’ve collected around 100,000 signatures thus far, though have to reach roughly 683,000 to qualify for the ballot.
On Friday companion bills were introduced in California’s Senate and Assembly that would legalize hemp production in the state. Senate Bill 566, and Assembly Bill 1137 were filed by Democratic Senator Mark Leno, and Republican Assemblyman Allan Mansoor.
The measures makes note of the fact that the state imports “tens of thousands of acres’ worth of hemp seed, oil, and fiber products that could be produced by California farmers at a more competitive price.”
Recent congressional research has shown hemp to be a market in America of over $400 million annually, and that hemp can be used to produce over 25,000 various products. Despite this, it remains illegal to actually grow hemp in the country, forcing us to import it from other nations.
Washington State has long been considered on the forefront of cannabis law reform, and over the past several months, things have escalated. Washington voters approved Initiative 502 with a resounding, double-digit victory. Possession of an ounce of cannabis is no longer a criminal offense. Smoking in clear public display is simply a ticket. Hundreds are filling meetings ran by the Liquor Control Board to discuss how legal cannabis retail outlets are going to be regulated. The state’s largest city, Seattle, has well over 100 access points for medical cannabis.
For all intents and purposes, cannabis is the new state flower for Washington.
Even better, voters aren’t the only advocates for change; their legislature is filled with champion reformists. And it shows.
Washington State lawmakers are currently discussing three cannabis-related bills, all of which passed through their respective committees, two unanimously.
Last week Kentucky’s Senate voted, 31-6, to approve legislation that would legalize hemp in the state. This is after their Senate Committee on Agriculture voted unanimously to put it to a full Senate vote.
Kentucky’s U.S Senators, Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnel and Rand Paul, have publicly endorsed the measure, while simultaneously working on federal legislation to end hemp prohibition.
Kentucky lawmakers are also consider legislation to legalize medical cannabis.
Now, lawmakers can rest assured that they have the clear majority backing of their constituents.
In an undeniable overstepping of government authority, a new piece of legislation has been introduced in West Virginia this week that would require drug testing for those in the state attempting to get their learners permit at 15, again when they get their intermediate license at 16, and a third time when being issues their full license.
A bipartisan pair of state legislators in Minnesota have teamed up to introduce legislation that would legalize hemp in the state. The measure, HF 736, has been titled the Industrial Hemp Development Act. You can find the entirety of the bill’s language here.
If passed, HF 736 would legalize the production of hemp, which the legislation considers to be 0.3% THC or less. This doesn’t meet the THC standard for hemp declared by the North American Industrial hemp Council (which declares hemp to contain up to 1% THC); however, the limit is based on similar regulations set in Canada and other European countries where hemp production is allowed, so growing hemp under such a standard is definitely possible.
According to the bill, they intend to legalize hemp as to “improve the state’s economy and agricultural vitality”, something it would surely do.
The campaign behind the California Cannabis Hemp and Health Initiative, which would explicitly legalize cannabis for adults 21 and older, will begin collecting signatures in May, attempting to put their initiative to a vote of the people in 2014.
The measure is also known as the Jack Herer initiative, based on his attempts to get a similar initiative on the ballot before he passed away in 2010. In addition, it was one of multiple measures vying for the 2012 ballot in California.
In hopes of taking advantage of the movement’s increased momentum after the passage of Amendment 64 and Initiative 502 this past November, those behind the initiative are working to get the cannabis community behind it early. The measure, although it faces some political challenges, is likely to appease most legalization advocates.
Recently the city of Lafayette put a temporary ban on any cannabis related business, including those that allow the use of cannabis on site. This ban came as a response to Colorado residents passing Amendment 64, legalizing cannabis for adults, which will soon lead to legal retail outlets in the state.
Challenging the ban, claiming that it flouts state law allowing adults to possess and consume cannabis, The Front Tea and Art Shop, located in Lafayette, is suing the city. The shop doesn’t sell cannabis and makes sure to point out on their website that they aren’t a cannabis co-op, but the shop considers itself to be “cannabis friendly”, and wants to allow customers to consume cannabis on their premises.
Continuing an active week in cannabis law reform for Washington State that includes the passage of House Bill 1661 and House Bill 1888, Washington’s Senate Committee on Health Care voted, unanimously, to approve Senate Bill 5528, which would protect patients from arrest in the state.
Washington passed their medical cannabis act back in 1998, but over a dozen years later patients are still only subject to an “affirmative defense” for using, possessing, growing, purchasing or selling cannabis. What this means; although there’s a legal protection against prosecution for qualified patients, patients can still be legally arrested, and charged, for medical cannabis, even if they’re following state law precisely.
Senate Bill 5528 would change this, adding defined arrest protection for qualified patients, making it no longer legal for state and local officers to arrest patients who fall within the state’s legal limit.
As we move towards full legalization, it’s easy to forget that roughly 80% of all Americans support cannabis being legal for medicinal usage.
This is an incredible consensus on an issue that many people, and most politicians, still consider controversial. Getting 80% of Americans to agree on anything, better yet a switch from a substance being completely prohibited to allowed as a medicine, is rare, to put it lightly.
This is why it’s vital for supporters of reform to never forget about these numbers and the backing we have. We should never allow politicians to get away with ignoring this issue or playing it off as a political third wheel.